LEE COUNTY, FL – In addition to great weather, shell-drenched shores and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida is the setting for award-winning, nationally-recognized festivals and special events each year. Visit FortMyers-Sanibel.com for more information.
Plan ahead: Hobie 16 World Championship in 2019
Hobie 16 World Championships is returning to the USA, after 35 years of events being held in other beautiful locations worldwide. And it is coming to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel Nov. 1-16, 2019.
Sailors from around the world will compete in three world championship disciplines: Women’s, Youth and Open, and three additional disciplines; Masters Cup, Grand Masters Cup and Great Grand Masters Cup.
South Seas Island Resort will host more than 1,000 athletes and 336 teams on 60 new Hobie Cat racing catamaran sailboats for 16 sailing days. Sailors from 30 countries are expected to attend. In past world events, as many as 7,000 people have attended the championships.
The Hobie 16 World Championships is the only sailboat class in the world to supply 60 brand-new identical Hobie Cats, 16-foot catamaran sailboats, for all competitors to race. Hobie Cat Company will provide the boats that will be used exclusively on the racecourse located just off Sunset Beach at the north end of Captiva Island. hobieworlds.com.
Happening now! Spring Training 2019
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. Get up close and see your favorite baseball players. What could be better than a beautiful spring days and great baseball? For a complete listing of packages, special rates and information on a spring training vacation, visit www.FortMyersSanibel.com.
Boston Red Sox spring training
Feb. 22-March 23
17 home games
JetBlue Park, Fort Myers
Minnesota Twins spring training
Feb. 23-March 26
18 home games
CenturyLink Sports Complex, Fort Myers
82nd Annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show, Sanibel Island
March 1-3, 2019
Sanibel Community House
Sanibel Island, named the best shelling beach in the U.S. and one of the best in the world, hosts shelling enthusiasts who gather each year for the shell fair that draws visitors from around the globe. One of the most unique events in the country, it began on a porch with just a few islanders and has evolved into today’s fair that includes demonstrations, shell displays, crafts, prizes, food and entertainment.
20th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival
Fort Myers Regional Library Campus
March 2, 2019
Celebrate the power of reading at the 20th annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival on March 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fort Myers Regional Library campus at 2450 First St., Fort Myers. The free, family-oriented festival is a chance to meet well-known authors and to focus on the importance of reading. There will also be books and authors for kids and teens. Check the schedule and list of authors at readfest.org
61st Annual Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival and Parade, Fort Myers Beach
March 9-10, 2019
The 61st Annual Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival and Parade takes place March 9-10 at Lynn Hall Memorial Park on Fort Myers Beach. Both days are filled with fun, food and crafts as well as the world-famous Lions Club shrimp dinners. Shrimp are from our local fleets and are as fresh as you can get. Enjoy a 5K run, the Shrimp Festival Parade, crowning of the Shrimp Queen and a shrimp eating competition.
9th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival
April 10-14, 2019
Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center
The Fort Myers Film Festival is an intelligent independent filmmaker’s preferred event to create, unite and showcase the finest artistic cinematic works. Known for its support of local filmmakers, the event is a must-attend for cineastes who love indie film and film festivals. Check out all the details on the website.
14th Annual Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, Fort Myers Beach
April 24-28, 2019
The Fort Myers Beach Film Festival invites independent film fans, filmmakers and distributors to spend four days to exchange ideas, make new contacts and enjoy some great films for all ages. Area accommodations offer special rates and packages to support this international celebration of independent filmmaking.
Smoke on the Water Barbecue Competition & Music Festival, downtown Fort Myers
April 26-27, 2019
The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center will host barbecue cook teams from across the South to compete in the Smoke on the Water Barbecue Competition & Music Festival 2018. This free community event brings an authentic experience of craft barbecue, beer and bands.
“Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tourney, Sanibel Island
May 3, 2019
To celebrate the history of the first documented tarpon caught on a rod-and-reel in “Ding” Darling’s Tarpon Bay in 1885, Doc Ford’s and the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge have partnered to host this 8th annual “catch, care, and release” tournament.
Registration is $500 per team of four, 100 percent of which goes back to the anglers in cash awards. Proceeds support the wildlife and conservation efforts at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Check out all of the details on the website.
23rd Annual MangoMania Tropical Fruit Festival, Pine Island
July 13-14, 2019
The mango is the star attraction for two days each summer on Pine Island. Go wild for fruit as you sample locally-grown delicacies at this annual affair, an unusual celebration of all the tropical fruit grown on the island, which includes lychee, carambola, longan, papaya, and “chocolate pudding fruit.” Fruit, exotic fruit trees, and fruit-related products are available for purchase. This fun, family event celebrates Pine Island’s mangoes and other tropical fruits. In addition to mango food and beverages, the event features live music, art and craft vendors, food and recipe contests, and activities area for kids and a chance to meet the Mango Queen.
Save the dates and plan ahead!
The sixth annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest returns Sept. 20-29, 2019. The popular event brings music back to the beach with new artists and new events. The festival takes place over 10 days and offers a range of star-studded performances. It kicks off on Captiva Island Sept. 20-22; moves to downtown Fort Myers Sept. 23-26; and ends at Fort Myers Beach Sept. 27-29.
Visit islandhopperfest.com for details as they are announced including artists, venues and great deals on accommodations for locals and out-of-town guests (coming soon).
The festival is presented by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, iHeartRadio, Cat Country 107.1 and BMI. It was named one of the top events for summer by the Southeast Tourism Society. Past performers include Midland, Parmalee, Thompson Square and Grammy Award winner Maren Morris. The sixth annual event will continue to give fans the opportunity to meet the talented artists who write songs for country superstars including Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and Tricia Yearwood.
For more information visit www.islandhopperfest.com. Follow the festival hashtag #islandhopper on Twitter and other social channels.
33rd Annual Oktoberfest, Cape Coral
Oct. 18-20 and 25-27, 2019
Hosted by the German-American Club, this huge celebration brings organizes Munich to Cape Coral. The Cape Coral Oktoberfest is the largest party of the year in the community and is THE event for fun, good food, freshly poured domestic and German beer, live music on several stages, laughter, dancing. Call or check website for schedule and ticket information.
31st Annual J.N. “Ding” Darling Days, Sanibel Island
Oct. 19-20, 2019
Conservation Art Day on Saturday, Oct. 19, kicks off the “Ding” Darling Days weekend with Federal Duck Stamp Winners, other artists, cartooning, and nature art — a day devoted to Jay Norwood Darling’s legacy as the first duck stamp artist and Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist.
Family Fun Day on Oct. 20, culminates the weekend of eco-activities with all-free Refuge tram tours, live wildlife presentations, hot dogs, crafts, and other family activities. Birding, boating, tram, and kayaking activities fill the weekend.
37th Annual Taste of the Town, Fort Myers
Nov. 3, 2019
Alliance for the Arts
Join the Junior League of Fort Myers for a great day of food, music and kids entertainment for the 37h Annual Taste of the Town. All proceeds from this event go to support the projects of the Junior League.
Cape Coral CoCoNut Festival, Cape Coral
Sun Splash Family Water Park
Cape Coral CoCoNut Festival celebrates Cape Coral’s reputation for coconuts, multi-cultural food, boating, fishing and wildlife. The festival will feature a national musical act, gymnastic entertainment, carnival rides, water-ski shows, tropical food, contests, coconut crafts and fireworks.
14th Annual Sanibel Island Writers Conference
BIG Arts and the Sanibel Island Public Library
This intimate writers’ conference draws acclaimed authors and songwriters, award-winning poets and screenplay writers. The talented group holds small workshops for all levels of aspiring writers who want to follow in their creative footsteps. Participants also enjoy nightly readings and concerts, which are open to the public. The conference welcomes any writer who wants to create new work or refine a project in progress.
For details and reservations, visit website or contact Tom DeMarchi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
33rd Annual Sand Sculpting Championship, Fort Myers Beach
Nov. 22-Dec. 1, 2019
In front of Wyndham Garden Hotel
Come and join the fun on Fort Myers Beach for the 33rd Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship and Beach Festival. Sponsored by the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, this fun-filled event will include world-class master sand sculptors, a state championship contest, an amateur contest, sand sculpting demonstrations and lessons, and much more. With more than 1,000 tons of sand, master sand sculptors are returning to Fort Myers Beach forming the largest sand sculpting event in the state, plying their craft and showcasing their artistry in what USA Today and CNN Travel have named a “must-see” and one of the 10 best sand sculpting competitions in the world.
43rd Annual Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
Edison Ford Holiday Nights reflect the many contributions of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and their families to the local community. It was chosen by the editors of USA Today as one of the 10 Best Historic Homes for the Holidays, which also included The White House, Mount Vernon, Monticello and the Biltmore in North Carolina. To view the article visit: 10best.com/interests/trip-pics/historic-homes-for-the-holidays/
A not-to-be-missed holiday tradition, the historic buildings and more than 20 acres of gardens are decorated with lights and traditional decorations. The event offers a special holiday tour, Children’s Tree Trail, Santa visits on select nights, refreshments and shopping in the Ford Cottage Shoppe, Museum Store and Garden Shoppe. For admission and details: www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/events/annual-events/holiday-nights/
35th Annual Christmas Luminary Trail and Open House, Sanibel and Captiva islands
Dec. 8 on Sanibel Island and Dec. 9 Captiva Island 2019
This event draws visitors from all over the world as they join local residents to celebrate the season with three miles of luminary candles and events.
River District Holidays, downtown Fort Myers
Dec 1, 2019-Jan. 2, 2020
The calendar is packed with holiday events to get you in the spirit of the season. Festival of Trees, Holiday Stroll and Tree Lighting, Burroughs’s Home & Gardens Holiday House, Music Walk, holiday concert and a New Year’s Eve celebration to welcome 2020. Check the website for a complete calendar.
Annual Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum Lighting, Boca Grande
Celebrate the annual lighting of the Gasparilla Lighthouse at 6 p.m. with music and refreshments. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida includes: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande & Outer Islands, North Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres. For media assistance, visit